The Science Behind Hypnotherapy


Hypnosis and hypnotherapy now has an enormous amount of academic and medical research behind it. The positive effects of hypnosis as a natural and effective tool are now accepted as a stand-alone or complimentary treatment for a variety of medical and psychological problems.

In sort, hypnosis and hypnotherapy are now mainstream, no longer just an ‘alternative therapy’, but an essential and permanent solution to issues that were once thought incurable!

Hypnosis is a misunderstood phenomenon, but it can be a powerful tool for change – even a cure – for a host of problems. It’s also a very effective way of maximising performance.

Believe it or not, hypnosis has been used as a tool for positive change for thousands of years, although it hasn’t always been called hypnosis. Today, the use of hypnosis as a therapeutic tool is widespread. In the process, hypnosis has been subject to intense scientific research. Clinical hypnosis is based on intense scientific research at universities and hospitals around the world prove just how effective hypnosis can be.

Hypnosis sessions are about more than just the hypnosis; addressing emotional or psychological problems always involves examining and interpreting the way we understand ourselves; how we feel emotionally, including our thoughts, feelings, habits and behaviour.

Hypnotherapy for Healing, Pain Management and Immune Response

Hypnosis really can have a profound beneficial effect on the workings of your body.
Physicians and psychologists agree that we are ‘a mind with a body – not a body with a mind!’ In other words, the way we think can affect our physical as well as our mental health, and there are volumes of scientific evidence to back this up.

For example, a 2007 study found that women who were hypnotised before undergoing breast biopsies required less sedation during the procedure, experienced less pain, nausea, and emotional distress. Major operations have been carried out with hypnosis as the sole anaesthetic.

Hypnotherapy is effective for controlling pain caused by accidents, post operative pain, and the ordinary aches and pains that accompany old age and illness, as well as chronic long-term pain or disease.

There is also a considerable body of evidence that hypnosis can enhance the effectiveness of the immune system. In a study at Washington State University, volunteers who underwent hypnosis specifically to boost their immune systems showed significant increases in their levels of immune cells.

Hypnotherapy for Anxiety, Fears and Phobias

Hypnosis has long been proved successful in overcoming stress & anxiety, and fears & phobias. Many hypnotherapists use a powerful hypnotic technique called disassociation which has been shown to reduce fear by making troubling memories feel ‘safer’. This is often referred to as creating ‘emotional distance’. Overcoming fears and anxieties becomes an entirely natural and comfortable process.

Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine carried out a study on 44 children who were anxious about invasive medical examinations. The children had already been through at least one painful examination and reported being fearful when they had to undergo these procedures again. But the children who had been taught self-hypnosis were much less anxious, and the examinations also took less time.

Hypnotherapy for Motivation

Lack of motivation, procrastination, fear of success and even plain laziness can all be turned around with hypnosis. One highly successful technique is ‘third person motivational visualisation’. Research has proved that people are more able to do something they’ve already rehearsed under hypnosis, just like watching themselves do it in a movie.

Hypnosis can be used for all kinds of motivational issues, from starting a business, practicing a musical instrument, getting slimmer and fitter – even just getting out of bed and starting the day!

Hypnotherapy for Sports Performance

There is plenty of evidence to show hypnosis can help you master a skill and generally improve your performance, giving you ‘the edge’. Ever watched Olympic athletes ‘limber up’ before a race? They are mentally goIng through the steps they practised under hypnosis.

Hypnosis has long been used to improve focus, reaction time, confidence and even physical strength. Hypnosis can enhance skill as well as actual practice! Of course, rehearsal under hypnosis will never replace actual practice, but an ability to increase concentration could improve your game!

Hypnotherapy for Self-Esteem and Self Confidence

Emotional problems stem not just from what people think, but also from how they misuse their imagination. It’s often easier to imagine all kinds of negative things about ourselves and socially anxious people tend to focus less on other people and more on their own imaginary shortcomings.

Hypnotherapy utilises your own imagination to harness self-confidence and encourage a more healthy and optimistic sense of who you are – and what you can be.

Hypnotherapy helps us increase confidence in social situations and focus in the same way that naturally self confident people do.

Hypnotherapy for Addictions and Bad Habits

The National Council for Hypnotherapy recently circulated University of Iowa research about the effectiveness of hypnotherapy as a way of stopping smoking. The study, involving 72,000 people, investigated the most effective ways of stopping. Hypnotherapy was shown to be three times more effective than nicotine replacement therapy.

Overcoming addictions involves instilling hope and optimism. Hypnotherapy can successfully treat all sorts of addictions – not just smoking, but also alcohol and drugs, shopping addiction and social media addiction.

Hypnotherapy for Insomnia and Sleep Disorders

Insomnia can be caused or worsened by anxiety and stress. A vicious cycle of stress, exhaustion and insomnia can build up, with one feeding off the other.

Hypnotherapy can offer a natural approach to calmness and rest, without the side effects of pharmaceutical drugs. Several studies have confirmed that hypnotherapy sessions and progressive hypnotic relaxation exercises significantly improved the quality of sleep.

Hypnotherapy Can Make You Feel Younger!

Stress, anxiety, worry… all contribute to ageing, but surprisingly, researchers have discovered that ‘living in the past’ can actually make us feel younger!

In 1979, Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer conducted a study of a group of elderly men to discover if they could be made to feel young again. She had them live in an isolated New England Hotel, retro-fitted to how it would have looked twenty years earlier. The men, all in their late 70s and early 80s, were told not to reminisce about the past, but to actually act as if they had traveled back in time to find out if ‘acting’ younger actually made them feel younger.

After only a week, the men in the experimental group displayed more joint flexibility, increased dexterity and less arthritis in their hands. Their mental acuity rose measurably, and they showed improved gait and posture. Outsiders who were shown the men’s photographs judged them to be significantly younger than those of the control group. It was almost as if the ageing process had actually been reversed!

Hypnotherapists often use hypnosis to encourage people to feel younger and help them regain that feeling of youth.

Hypnotherapy in the Treatment of Depression

It used to be thought that hypnotherapy was not a suitable treatment for people with depression. We now know that hypnosis is a powerful tool to help beat depression. Hypnosis helps to calm the mind and body – something that is extremely beneficial. Depressed people have higher than normal levels of the stress hormone cortisol and hypnosis can be used to reduce this.

Hypnosis helps you recoup lost energy, rehearse new positive behaviours, and build motivation. These hypnotherapy sessions not only focus on better sleep and reducing anxiety, they also improve self-esteem and self-confidence, helping depressed clients regain ownership of their lives.

Hypnotherapy as a Treatment for Anger

Anger can be very damaging to relationships as well as your own peace of mind. Chronic anger is the biggest predictor of early death through heart disease – even more so than chronic smoking. Anger, jealousy, hypochondria, pessimism, can be generated and aggravated through the misuse of the imagination.

In a study conducted at Stanford Medical School, heart patients were asked to recall times when they had been angry. Although the patients said that the anger they felt on recalling the events was only half as strong as it had been originally, their hearts started pumping, on average, 5% less efficiently (cardiologists view a 7% drop in pumping efficiency as serious enough to cause a heart attack).

Imagination and recall are processed in the same parts of the brain. You can generate angry feelings by remembering past anger, or even imagining you are angry – both create very real physical changes, so it makes sense to use hypnosis constructively to stop anger being triggered too easily or too often.

“Hypnosis can be a powerful tool for change – even a cure – for a host of problems and subject to intense scientific research at universities and hospitals and has significant academic and medical approval. The positive effects of hypnosis as a natural and effective tool are now understood and accepted as a treatment for a variety of psychological problems. In short, hypnosis and hypnotherapy are now mainstream and no longer just a complementary therapy, but an essential and permanent solution to issues that were once thought incurable!” Andrew Newton.

Copyright Andrew Newton 2020. All rights reserved.

About Andrew Newton

andrew newton hypnotist

Andrew Newton has an international reputation as a leading authority on hypnosis. 

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